The best bars in Central

With so many quality drinking establishments stacked on top of one another, how do you know which are Central’s true elite? Here’s your answer
PDT
The interior at PDT
By Douglas Parkes |
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Central might not have the underground kudos belonging to Hong Kong’s hipster neighbourhoods like Sheung Wan and Sai Ying Pun, but who cares when the area is home to some of the best cocktail bars and whisky bars on the planet.

While we cant scientifically prove it and such qualms never seem to stop climate change deniers and the like there’s probably nowhere on Earth with as many quality drinking dens just around the corner from one another as in Central. The bar scene is that good. The only trouble is knowing where to start. That’s why we’ve rounded up 21 of the best bars from the neighbourhood that provide Central’s finest libations. You need never go thirsty again.

The best bars in Central

Restaurants, Italian

8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana

icon-location-pin Central

Long overlooked as a drinking destination – not a surprise when your bar is part of the only Italian restaurant outside of Italy to have three Michelin stars – 8½ is finally getting credit for its drinks as well as its food. In large part that’s thanks to the excellent Devender Kumar, bar manager and a Barcardi Legacy winner, whose signatures, The Optimist and Pocket Square, threaten to overshadow the food.

Photo: Tessa Chan
Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars

Bar De Luxe

icon-location-pin Central

Established by legendary Japanese bartender Hidetsugu Ueno, Bar De Luxe is no cheap imitation of his world famous Tokyo cocktail bar, Bar High Five. Helmed by the Ueno’s protégé, Yuriko Naganuma, this is upscale drinking at its finest.

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Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars

Bitters & Sweets

icon-location-pin Lan Kwai Fong

Those looking for more adventurous drinks than just another martini or old fashioned should head here. Expect drinks with ingredients like Iron Buddha tea, coffee-infused bourbon or orange marmalade. Oh, and don’t forget to try the smores.

Coa’s Pistacho Horchata
Photo: Krzysztof Gora
Bars and pubs

Coa

icon-location-pin Sheung Wan

Mezcal is suddenly a thing in Hong Kong and Coa is the agave spirit’s best evangelisers. The space is pleasant, supposedly reminiscent of your average bar in southern Mexico, but it’s the extensive mezcal and tequila menu where the bar shines. Home to the most extensive and in-depth collection in the city, there’s simply no better place to head if you fancy sipping a shot or a cocktail based on either spirit.

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Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars

Dr Fern’s Gin Parlour

icon-location-pin Central

An establishment from the team behind Mrs Pound and Foxglove, Dr Fern’s Gin Parlour is home to – who’d have thought – an impressive collection of more than 250 premium gins. A great place for a casual tipple in the plush surrounds of the Landmark, staff also shake up an array of imaginative libations and are happy to accommodate specific requests from more discerning customers.

Restaurants, Chinese

Duddell’s

icon-location-pin Central

Better known for its Michelin-starred cuisine, Duddell’s ‘Salon’ bar happens to serve drinks well worth taking a break from your char siu bao for. The drinks menu recently underwent a significant revamp and is now full of winners thanks to the efforts of bar manager Masumi Tomioka and JIA Group’s beverage specialist James Barker. Almost everything is worth trying once.

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Bars and pubs

Foxglove + Frank’s Library

icon-location-pin Central

From the team who behind cooler-than-thou restaurant Mrs Pound comes Foxglove, a 1950s-style watering hole serving up classic cocktails on Duddell Street hidden behind the exterior of an umbrella shop. If the drinks and live music in the main room aren’t quality enough for you, there’s always the exclusive Frank’s Library bar (hidden inside Foxglove) to try too.

Bars and pubs

Honi Honi Tiki Cocktail Lounge

icon-location-pin Lan Kwai Fong

If the many super serious cocktail bars littering Central feel too crusty, Honi Honi is here to help. Specialising in tiki drinks, this Wellington Street hangout is a Polynesian beach bar getaway in the heart of the city.

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Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars

I Know John

icon-location-pin Central

Tucked away on the ninth floor of The Loop building on Wellington Street, I Know John is a hidden gem serving up craft cocktails, gourmet hotdogs and niche wines and whiskies.

Restaurants, American

Lily & Bloom

icon-location-pin Lan Kwai Fong

Inspired by Prohibition era drinks, Lily is a hypnotically welcoming bar focusing on old-school favourite cocktails and modern classics made with boutique spirits and always with consummate care.

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Bars and pubs, Wine bars

Nocturne

icon-location-pin Central

The Japanese bar-inspired Nocturne is home to fantastic whiskies and wines, with skilled bartenders remaking classic cocktails with surgical care and precision. Think Ginza in Central.

Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars

The Old Man

icon-location-pin Sheung Wan

Launched by a trio of Hong Kong’s finest local talent, The Old Man is an establishment that’s prepared to do things its own way rather than rely on imported ideas or talent. Tucked away down an alley on Aberdeen Street, this shining example to other local bars is routinely packed as it mixes innovative drinks with appreciably attentive service.

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Bars and pubs

Origin

icon-location-pin Central

Origin’s focus on gin is no cheap gimmick. Using impressive gadgetry and techniques, Origin prepares infused gins in-house before blending them into incredible drinks.

Bars and pubs, Hotel bars

PDT (Please Don’t Tell)

icon-location-pin Central

PDT’s official opening in Hong Kong in early 2018 may not have generated quite the same buzz as when the bar popped up in the Landmark MO two years prior, but the cocktails are still of exceptional quality. As exciting as the drinks, the bar snacks, created by Richard Ekkebus, culinary director of Michelin-starred Amber, are also top drawer.

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Bars and pubs

The Pontiac

icon-location-pin Soho

A raucous take on an American dive bar, skip the so-so house cocktails and order up a classic to your preferred specification to learn why The Ponty is rated among Asia’s 50 Best Bars. 

Bars and pubs

Quinary

icon-location-pin Soho

Decked out like an immaculate factory, with concrete-floors, filament lighting and meshed gates, Quinary serves up some of the pricier cocktails in town. However, it’s a cocktail bar with substance worth every cent.

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Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars

Room 309

icon-location-pin Central

Antonio Lai’s newest venture is a narrow sliver of a bar. The establishment’s key concept is ‘imagination’ – hence the Crystal Old Fashioned, a specially distilled concoction that’s transparent. The signature menu is written on a see-through sheet of plastic that appears invisible when the menu is first opened – another embodiment of the ephemeral atmosphere Room 309 successfully creates.

Bars and pubs

Sake Central

icon-location-pin Sheung Wan

It’s a common complaint that PMQ is used for all the wrong things. Sake Central is another odd fit in the arts/shopping/entertainment venue – but what an odd fit. Offering the best selection of sake in the city, there’s no better place to indulge your taste for the Japanese tipple or to start learning about it. The accompanying ‘otsumami’ small bites are divine, too.

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Bars and pubs

Stockton

icon-location-pin Central

Stockton may only have opened in 2014 but it feels like it’s been around forever, such an institution has the Wyndham Street haunt become in its short existence. Top draw cocktails and a tremendously atmospheric space are the reasons why.

Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars

The Wise King

icon-location-pin Soho

The Wise King is an excellent independent venture set up by industry veterans Joe Villanueva (formerly of Lobster Bar) and Sandeep Kumar (a two-time Bacardi Grand Prix National Champion). As well as tapas offerings, expect creative cocktails in the cosy lounge venue. Highlights include the likes of The Monti-Tipple ($108) – a mix of Xeco Amontillado sherry, Gin Mare, Café Vermouth and aromatic choco bitters.

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Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars

The Woods

icon-location-pin Central

With a menu bursting with specialist liquors, house-cured ingredients, infusions and hybrids of all kinds, The Woods has justifiably earned a reputation for hardcore, experimental mixology.

Still thirsty?

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